Paint An Aluminum Boat

Sometime in the early 1970’s my Dad and I responded to an advertisement in the “Boats For Sale” section of the classified ads in our local newspaper. He was looking for a 14 foot aluminum boat for fishing and as the general all purpose boat for the camp.

It was our good fortune that there was a fellow selling a couple 14 foot aluminum boats that he had obtained from the railway, apparently they were scratched during transport on the train, and ended up being sold off. He bought them and was selling them to make a little profit. At least that is what he told Dad and I.

As soon as we saw the 14 foot Harbercraft aluminum boat, we knew it was what we were after. It was wide and stable looking, roomy, very roomy compared to the 12 foot Starcraft aluminum boat we had been using up until that time.

I think Dad paid $280 for the boat. We loaded it onto the roof racks of the 66 Chevrolet station wagon and set off for the camp on a Friday night.

We got to the camp that night around 11 p.m. but couldn’t wait until morning, we unloaded the aluminum boat from the roof of the stationwagon and put it in the lake. As I remember, we stuck his 3 horsepower Johnson Seahorse motor on it and cruised around the cove in the dark. Yup, we were keeners.

That turned out to be $280 well spent. The boat was a good one. It handled the rough waters that our lake had to offer and equipped with a 9 horsepower and later a 15 horsepower outboard, it skipped over the waves very nicely. And the best part, it’s light weight made it fairly easy to pull up on shore, and because it is mostly all aluminum, we can turn it over on the lawn and pretty much forget about when not in use.

Well that little aluminum boat has been tucked behind the camp for several years now, set aside in favor of larger aluminum boats, speedboats and a pontoon boat. It was kind of forgotten about except for occasional use by my daughters as a rowboat.

Recently I had a look at the boat and decided it needed a little aluminum boat paint job to spice it up a bit, but otherwise it was good as new. My old wooden rowboat had finally rotted to the point it was no longer seaworthy, so the aluminum boat is going to become my new rowboat.

"aluminum boat"

I put the boat up on sawhorses, scrapped and sanded it, mostly just scuffed up the old paint and cleaned up the aluminum and applied some primer to the painted area of the hull. Then I added a few coats of an enamel spray paint that was designed for metal, including primed aluminum. Perfect paint to paint an aluminum boat. It looked pretty good.

After I was finished with the sides, I added some white to the gunwale which looked good so I decided to go another step and paint the actual hull white, a nice contrast to the green sides.

At the same time I pulled the stern plywood transom wood off and replaced it, as it was getting a little ripe from sitting around too close to the ground. That done, I enlisted Wendy to help me carry it to the lake, and there ya go sailor, a nice new painted aluminum rowboat…..

Here it is, tied to the dock, just waiting to be rowed.

Here is another view of the new aluminum boat paint job.
"aluminum boat"

If you are going to paint an aluminum boat, make sure you get it sanded well and primed before you paint it. Of course, with any spray paint project, you also need to tape off any areas you don’t want painted. I taped off the area’s close to where the color change happened, so as not to get white paint on the green or vice versa. Also make sure you use paint that is designed to paint an aluminum boat, or at least paint that is suitable for metal. Use a good metal primer to prepare the aluminum for the paint.

In conclusion, my little project to paint an aluminum boat turned out rather well. However, a year later I am noticing some paint has come off, and I believe it to be in places where I didn’t get it scraped as well as I should have. However, it is minor, the boat still looks pretty good for a homemade backyard paint job.


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